anger in portugal. labor unions walk out in protest against government austerity. public sector work verse hit the streets of lisbon by the hundreds. union members there and elsewhere in portugal are frustrated over government austerity measures. they have gone on strikes across the country paralyzing public transportation. staff at school and hospitals walked out. the nationwide union confederation staged demonstrations in the capital lisbon.
the international monetary fund and the european union bailed out portugal with a loan of more than $100 billion. in return, those bodies urged the government to push ahead with belt-tightening measures. the government raised taxes and cut social security. demonstrators say the imf and the eu are manipulating their government. >> the austerity plan is security for a large part of the population but not for people with real money that are escaping taxes, that are impoverishing this company. >> financial markets are less jittery about portugal than in month's past. still investors speculate the country may need additional bailout funds like greece. now let's see what investors on the tokyo markets are doing. the nikkei 225 just opened. ai uchida from the business team is here with a check on the
business markets. ai. >> as you mentioned, investors not completely convinced yet that the drama in the eurozone as a whole is over yet. that in addition to concerns about slower growth in china actually weighed down u.s. markets overnight. so let's see how stocks here are trading as a reaction. for that we're going to ramin mellegard at the tokyo stock exchange. good morning to you. a bit of a pullback in stocks. how is the nikkei doing this friday? >> very good morning to you, ai. let's take a look at opening levels for the nikkei and topix this friday morning. can you see a very clear-cut picture actually, and we can see thereto nikkei down over 100 points, but it's still holding above the 10,000 key level, so let's see if it can hold out there and close out the week there, but still a pretty negative start there. the topix down nine points. the nikkei average has actually been one of the outperforming indexes so far this year despite some of the negative news that has been coming out of china and japan even posted a trade surplus for february. we did see the dow jones trading
lower, but if we actually look at the volume levels, that has not been that great, and in fact maybe just showing a little bit of a pullback or profit-taking on the recent gains that we've seen which have actually pushed u.s. indexes to very high levels as well for the s&p 500, the nasdaq and the dow. however, the major story does concern the slowing growth in china and also after it posted a trade deficit recently and also the hsbc pmi survey yesterday which show they fall to 48.1 indicating a slowing in manufacturing. we also had a eurozone manufacturing just yesterday also indicating a slowdown in manufacturing. now, the currency markets did show immediate signs reflecting some of the concerns in the marketplace. let's have a look at the dollar, yen and euro/yen and can you see what i'm talking b.28.51-53. that was trading around 83 levels this time yesterday.
euro oyien 108.95-99. that was trading around 110 this time yesterday. we did also see a u.s. treasury bonds, the yields dropping there, so investors shifting some assets into the relative safety of the yen and treasury bonds. >> yeah, absolutely. and ramin though, u.s. economic data, still, that continues to show steady improvement, so markets i guess in a bit of a twist with positive u.s. data, but, you know, as you said, slowing growth in china. >> yeah, exactly. a bit of a twist there because a lot of investors are looking at, for instance, weekly jobless claims numbers which came out yesterday in the u.s. which showed a new four-year low, leading indicators, another indicator which shows business cycle in the u.s. also showed a rise but then, of course, we have the slowing growth concerns in china. japan counts china as its biggest trading partner but also relies on the u.s. markets for a lot of its exports, and with the
economic data so far out of the u.s., looks like overall markets are taking more of a cue from the u.s. markets. today we're seeing a bit of a pullback, if you will, with the nikkei down over 100 points but still above that 10,000 level. let's see if we can close the week out above 10,000. back to you. >> all right. sounds good, ramin. thanks for that. ramin mellegard from the tokyo stock exchange. now, staying with china. japan has asked china to deal swiftly with trademark infringements. senior government officials from the two nations discussed the matter in beijing. japan claims that the names of japanese brands, places and local specialties have been used by unrelated chinese firms and individuals. the japanese officials asked for quicker procedures to tackle the issue. they pointed out that it takes about 20 months for chinese authorities to accept objections from japanese firms. chinese officials did not respond with concrete proposals but stressedhey would take a
tougher stance in cracking down on illegal trademarks. china is witnessing a number of trademark issues. currently a chinese i.t. equipment-maker is battling with apple over the trademark of the ipad tablet computer. the japanese government will acquire up to two-thirds of the shares in tokyo electric power company. that's the operator of the troubled fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant. tepco will draw up a business revitalization plan this month and receive the support from a government-backed fund. this will help the power firm to compensate those affected by the fukushima nuclear accident. tepco forecasts a net loss of about $8.4 billion for the business year ending this month. the plan will include receiving public money of about $12 billion. this will boost tepco's financial condition. now, in return for the fund injection, the government will get common stocks and other
types of shares in tepco, giving it two-thirds of the voting rights. this majority ownership would allow the government to put through or reject any proposals raised at shareholder meetings. the government also aims to reshuffle tepco's management by appointing officials from the outside. tepco is opposed to the idea of government control and wants to maintain independence as a private entity. let's take a look at a recap of the latest market figures.
that is the latest in business. back to catherine now. >> thanks very much, ai. japan's security watch dog has launched an investigation into aij investment advisors on suspicion of defrauding its clients. aij allegedly misrepresented its position when taking investment because it wanted additional funds to recoup past losses. the tokyo-based asset manager lost most of the roughly $1.8 million entrusted to it by other firms and pension funds. it has ready access to only around $97 million. sources say that in a bid to cover up the huge losses aij president kazuhiko asako fabricated statements and made accountants falsify reports. they tricked clients into buying products at higher prices though the value had sharply declined as a result of the aij financial
failures. they plan to strip aij of its registration as an asset manager. japan and the united states have agreed to share a nation and coordinate closely in dealing with next month's planned rocket launch by north korea. the agreement came at a meeting in tokyo between defense minister naoki tanaka and u.s. ambassador to japan, john roos. >> translator: as we face the north korean issue, now is an important time to demonstrate the japan-u.s. alliance. >> tanaka said the international community should unite in pressing north korea to abandon the launch plan. ambassador roos says the north's action is a threat to peace and stability in the asia-pacific region. tanaka said he will order the self-defense forces to prepare to intercept any falling debris from the rocket. he added that the defense ministry is considering deploying destroyers equipped with the aegis air defense
system off southern islands such as ishigaki. he said patriot pac-3 surface-to-air missiles could also be deployed. south korea says it will work with other countries to persuade north korea to scrap the launch plan. south korean foreign minister has discussed the issue with china, japan, russia and the united states. >> translator: the nations share a common understanding that what north korea calls a satellite launch would violate u.n. security council resolutions. we will continue discussing the matter based on this understanding. >> the resolutions adopted two years ago ban any use of ballistic missile technology by north korea. the country says the launch is for the peaceful use of space. south korea strongly opposes a launch, saying it's designed to develop technology for ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons.
u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon has also expressed grave concerns over north korea's launch plans. he says he'll discuss the issue with world leaders at the nuclear security summit in south korea next week. cartoonists and illustrators around the world have joined hands to producing an art book full of messages to encourage japan as it tries to recover from last year's earthquake and tsunami. the work was published in japan earlier this month at the initiative of a french comic writer. nhk world has this report as he met the man one year after the disaster. >> reporter: jean david is one of europe's writers of comic
books. he. >> not so good. >> reporter: on march 11th, 2011, he was in tokyo on business. >> translator: when i saw japanese next to me fainting or starting to cry or even calling out for people in a panic, that's when i really understood we were witnessing a historic moment. >> reporter: morvan invited a wider group of artists to produce illustrations to japan. about 2,700 works were sent to him over the next two months. >> translator: we shouldn't forget the disaster completely, but it's also important to get past the pain. i think looking at illustrations helps. it's something that can cam you. i pick up a book, sit down and take your time to look at it, and you're in a calmer place.
>> reporter: the book's contents were produced from artists from europe and other countries in asia. this illustration is the work of a japanese artist. it envisions fukushima 50 years from now with people relying on wind power as an energy source. each picture is for prayers for the victim souls and for recovery of the disaster hit areas. as part of a new project, morvan visited a temporary housing community in one of the region's affected by the tsunami. morvan fears that after the disaster french media focused too much on the nuclear accident instead of people suffering. morva in has asked those to recount the experience so he can
write accounts for them to read >> translator: i remember it all, as if it happened yesterday. i also find myself wondering what i'm doing here. >> translator: brownish water gushed forward. i didn't think my house would be swept away, but now it's all gone. i haven't been sleeping well since the disaster. the more i think about it, the more everything seems hopeless. >> i'd really like you to tell this kind of story. >> translator: please let them know that we would appreciate their help. >> reporter: morvan visited several areas over the three days. many people he met asked them to
contribute to the work. >> i don't know yet, but i think there is something very interesting here we can talk about, about human beings, not about japan, of course, but about the life of humans, i guess. >> reporter: one year on, morvan says he'll continue to write comics about the disaster to make sure the world remembers. nhk world. the first version of morvan's book was published in france last year. part of the proceeds from sales in japan will be donated to disaster-hit areas. last year. part of the proceeds from sales in japan will be donated to disaster-hit areas. next we go to patchari raksawong in bangkok to find out what's making head lins in the
region. >> the coming elections in myanmar have become a litmus test of the country's democratization. the government wants to prove it's serious about reform so it has invited the united states to send observers to monitor the vote. u.s. state department spokesperson victoria nuland said on wednesday that the observe mah administration would accept the invitation from myanmar to send two observers and three journalists. >> this is a welcome first step. we'd obviously encourage the burmese government to try to bring this monitoring effort as closely as they can to -- to international standards. >> bi-elections to both chambers of parliament, as well as regional assemblies, are scheduled for april 1st. the most high-profile candidate is pre-democracy leader aung san suu kyi. myanmar also announced this week it would accept observers from
its asean neighbors. nuland suggested the limited number of invitations falls short of international standards for election monitoring. but she said the u.s. would work with the other observers from asean. washington is closely watching the vote to judge myanmar's commitment to democratization. myanmar's government apparently hopes that by accepting foreign observers it will encourage the international community to take a positive stance and eventually lift economic sanctions. myanmar's steps towards political reform are already changing the way the international community sees the country. they now think of myanmar as the place to invest. foreign companies are scrambling to secure their piece of the pie. nhk world's jun kobayashi reports.
>> reporter: the first exhibition of japanese products was held in early march in myanmar's largest city. some 45 japanese companies showcased products, including motorcycles, household appliances and cosmetics. >> translator: japanese products are a lot better than those from other countries. >> reporter: until now, few western brands have been able to secure a foothold in this market of 60 million consums. but myanmar's moves towards democratization are giving many foreign companies hope. this man is the japanese maker of machinery used to mill rice. regional manager built the
company's plan in myanmar >> translator: this market has great potential. we're treating it as a significant opportunity to invest. >> reporter: the company already holds a top spot in world wide manufacturers of large scale mills. its executives are betting that exports of rice will grow dramatically, boosting demand for their equipment. until the 1960s, myanmar was the world's largest exporter of rice, producing an estimated 5 million tons a year, but it has since been overtaken by thailand and vietnam. in 2011 myanmar claimed top spot in the category in the worldwide competition of quality rice. >> translator: i believe our rice industry will continue to
expand. it won't be long before we reclaim our position as the world's largest exporter of rice. rice from myanmar costs 30% less than thailand and vietnam, but the quality of myanmar's grains continues to improve. kawate is convinced that it will be a major business opportunity. the key, he says, will be to continue improving the product, and that's where his company steps in. heightened senses in the rice mills take out tainted grain. kawate says this type of technology will help raise the quality of rice of myanmar from other developing countries >> translator: this type of machine is an essential component of rice processing lines. when it comes to exports, it will be one of our company's main assets. >> reporter: but kawate's plans
are under threat. copycat machines sold at one-third of the price are penetrating myanmar from neighboring china. kawate is trying to fend off rivals by explaining that japan's superior standards are essential to produce top quality rice food exports. >> translator: it's a very tough battle, but i belief that customers in search of better quality will benefit from our equipment. we still have a chance. >> reporter: as a full listing of sanctions becomes ever more likely, competition amid foreign companies is expected to head up. opportunities for the emerging myanmar has just begun. jun kobayashi, nhk world. >> rising fuel prices are becoming a risk to the strong growth enjoyed by most asean economies. a gauge of world oil prices has
been over $100 a barrel since last month, amid tension with and sanctions against iran. consumers in southeast asia a feeling the pinch, and they are starting to make their anger known. in indonesia, around 5,000 protesters rallied wednesday outside the presidential palace in jakarta. they called for a planned hike in fuel prices to be delayed. the government of president susilio bambang yudhoyono has proposed a 33%ncrease in energy prices. the plan still needs to be approved by parliament. it's due to come into effect on april 1st. >> the government says it has to raise prices because the budget sunday threat. the question is who put it under threat? the people? >> economists forecast the price hike will push indonesia's inflation rate above 7% this
year. meanwhile, in the philippines, people are also showing anger about fuel prices in a unique way. noy noying is the latest trend mocking president aquino's latest inaction on the issue. noy noying involves people just sitting down and looking bored or lying around staring into space. basically not doing much at all. local media quoted the president as saying the new form of protest does not merit attention. and that's going to wrap up our bulletin. i'm patchari raksawong in bangkok. it's expected to be cold in tokyo today after a very warm day yesterday. let's find out what's going on. sayaka mori joins us now with the world weather forecast. >> good morning,ocrat ryan. yes, it was a quiet warm day yesterday. the high rose to the mid-teens.
however, yes, it's going to feel more like winter today. the reason is this developing low pressure system that will bring cold air to our area so temperatures will dip into the single digits. however, to the south of the front, areas like kyushu and chicago observingu will rise above average. a heavy rain is occurring in western japan, up to 200 millimeters is pop in the next 24 hours. thunderstorms and gusting winds will be accompanied with the heavy precipitation. as the system moves towards the northeast, rain should change over to snow in northern tohoku. heavy snow is on the course over weekend here. meanwhile, rain in the southern half of the korean peninsula will move out to sea, but instead snow will be moving into the northern half of the peninsula on -- over the next 24 hours. as for china, ongoing heavy showers will dissipate, so that's good news.
down towards the indochina peninsula, heavy rain will occur in cambodia as well as southern vietnam on your saturday. as for the highs, scorching day for you in bangkok with 37 degrees. cooler than average in shanghai with 11. tokyo dipping down to 9 degrees on friday, but 15 degrees on saturday. so very changing weather here. heading over to the americas. we can see rotating clouds over the central u.s., so severe thunderstorms are still impacting this area, and it hasn't moved very much, so the rainfall total will become even more significant. currently parts of alabama and mississippi are experiencing the brunt of it. tornado watches have been issued here. over the next 24 hours, as i mentioned, it won't move very much so the risk of flash floods is very high here. out towards the west, a wintry mix and freezing rain will move
into central canada. meanwhile it stays dry across the west coast. however, as a strong low pressure moves in, things will turn wet and gusty over the weekend. as for the highs. historic warmth will continue across the western half of the u.s., getting up to 20 degrees in chicago and summer like 27 in washington, d.c., but parts of ontario and quebec are starting to see temperatus drop. 18 degrees for a daytime high on friday, and it will become even cooler as we head into saturday. heading over to euro, mostly calm across much of europe, but a very strong low pressure system is dashing down over western russia bringing a wintry mix. because the system is containing a lot of cool air, temperatures will dip to one degree in moss co, but other than that, exceptional warmth is continuing. 20 degrees in paris and 17 degrees in berlin. actually the warmth will likely